ODU Football loses a Heartbreaker as Virginia rallies to win, 16-14, on a last-second basket
By Harry Minium
CHARLOTTESVILLE- Old Dominion were 61 seconds away from what would have been one of their biggest ever football wins.
The Monarchs silenced a crowd of 40,556 at Scott Stadium with an 11-game, 80-yard drive, capped off by by Hayden Wolff 18-yard touchdown pass to Zack Kuntzwhich gave the Monarchs a 14-13 lead over Virginia with 1:01 to go.
For a few moments, the nearly 2,000 Monarch fans in attendance held court, as their shouts of “ODU” echoed around the stadium as Virginia fans watched in stunned silence.
But led by standout quarterback Brennan Armstrong, the Cavaliers rushed for 56 yards in the final minute to set up a 26-yard field goal from Brendan Farrell that gave Virginia a 16-14 victory.
Kuntz, who is 6-foot-8, lined up with the extra-point block team and the kick sailed a foot or two above his outstretched hands.
A win would have given ODU (1-2) a clean sweep of the state’s two ACC schools. The Monarchs upset Virginia Tech, 20-17, in their season opener two weeks ago.
It was a heartbreaking way to lose, but the coach Ricky Rahn said at the end, every loss hurts.
“I mean, they’re all hurting,” said Rahne, head coach of ODU’s Thurmond Family. “It doesn’t matter how they end.
“Our defense made plays all day. But a veteran quarterback made a few plays late that gave his team a chance to win.
“It was a good game of football with two teams really fighting. In the end, we didn’t do enough to win the game.”
Armstrong (20 of 37 passes for 284 yards) became Virginia’s all-time leading passer.
Wolff played perhaps his best game of 2022, completing 23 of 37 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns
But the Monarchs were unable to mount sustained drives and the running game, while more productive than it was last week at East Carolina, produced just 89 net yards.
ODU’s other touchdown came on a 32-second, 64-yard drive late in the first half, during which Wolff completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ali Jennings III.
“We had chances to make plays all day,” Rahne said. “We were moving the ball but then we would do something stupid.
“We have to score more points.”
ODU gave up 513 yards, but its defense kept the Monarchs in the game by forcing and recovering fumbles on three Virginia drives in the red zone.
“This one really hurts,” Wolff said. “Our defense played against a top NFL quarterback, and they played lights. They forced turnovers, they gave us opportunities.
“As an offense, we just left too much on the pitch.
“This one hurts, knowing he was there for us and we didn’t.”
The final two practices of the match had fans of both teams on their feet.
ODU started its final ride on the Virginia 20 and converted twice on fourth down. The first came on a 22-yard pass to Kuntz that gave ODU a first down at his 44.
Then, on fourth-and-15 at Virginia 33, Wolff moved to an open Jennings, who was dragged down by a Cavaliers defender before he could fire the pass. A pass interference penalty gave ODU a first down at 18.
Two plays later, Wolff connected with Kuntz for the touchdown.
Virginia’s Nick Jackson caught the ensuing kickoff deep in the end zone and players usually settle for a touchdown when they’re that deep.
But he returned the kick and found a seam that gave Virginia a first down at 37.
“I bet if I go back and watch the tape, there’s some (ODU) guys who slowed down because their turner put his hands up like he was going to give up,” Rahne said.
“I’m pretty sure most of the guys on their team thought they were going to give up.”
Armstrong then threw a 30-yard pass to Lavel Davis Jr. and the Cavaliers were in business.
ODU hosts Arkansas State Saturday at 6 p.m. in its first Sun Belt conference game. The Monarchs need to quickly put aside Saturday’s loss, Rahne said.
“Our team has invested a lot this week to prepare for this game,” Rahne said. “The hard part is sometimes you invest so much, and you don’t get a return.
“But that doesn’t mean you stop investing. We have to go back on Sunday and start investing again. When you do that, it shows the true character of a team.
“And I know the true character of this team.”
REMARKS: Freshman in red shirt chris adams made his first career start as an offensive right tackle… Nick Saldivéri made his 27th career start, but first at offensive right guard… Blake Watson had six carries for 40 yards on the game’s first practice after having had five carries last week at ECU… ODU’s opponent scored first in the first three games this season… Defense forced three turnovers , the second time this season they’ve forced three or more turnovers this season… In the opener against Virginia Tech, ODU had four interceptions and recovered fumbles. The Monarchs forced three fumbles… For the sixth time in his career, Blake Watson had more than 20 litters. He finished with 21 carries for 70 yards… Ali Jennings III just missed his third straight 100-yard receiving game, catching seven passes for 97 yards and a touchdown… Zack Kuntz had his best game reception of the season, catching six passes for 83 yards and a score. Kuntz is the first receiver other than Jennings to score a touchdown… Tariq Sims carried five times for career-best 17 yards… Linebacker Jason Henderson notched his third double-digit tackle game of the season, totaling a game-high 12 saves and a tackle for a loss…Virginia tried to test the cornerback Tobias Harris and he finished with four pass breakups, the second most in a game in ODU history… Denzel Lowry had a career-high five tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery… Ryan Henry had seven saves, a sack and a forced fumble.